Happy One-Year Renovation Anniversary + Lots of News!

Hi Everyone,

This is a newsy post on the one year renovation anniversary. And it’s also a continuation of the post about jib doors.

I woke up today to the sound of intense construction. Then, I looked out the window and saw two vans parked in the tandem spot behind my building. That is very rare.

However, yesterday (Monday) was not a good day.

I developed an eye infection over the weekend and had to sleep. Yes, I know. While I’m trying not to be stressed out, it isn’t easy. My resistance is low. I saw my doctor today and got some antibiotic drops, which are already helping a lot.

Before I fell back asleep, I briefly saw the AC technician but didn’t say anything to him. Yes, the new condenser was installed.


When I got up a couple of hours later, the guy was gone.


I gingerly went downstairs, and it was like walking in slow motion to get to the garden. The Universe was sending lots of neggy vibes. Yes, the condenser is considerably smaller. That much is good. But it was still 19″ up off the ground!!!


new condenser too high off the ground

Some of you in Boston may have felt a slight tremor around noon on June 3rd. If so, please understand it wasn’t an earthquake. No. It was me stomping my feet in abject frustration.

Do you know how often I’ve told Robert I want the new condenser installed as low to the ground as possible? I found it at least three times in text messages and repeated it last week.


So, I wrote him a text with images. This was around 1:30 PM.


I didn’t get a response for the rest of the day, which didn’t help my mood one iota. All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind, none of them very encouraging.

However, when I woke up today, I got a kind message from my GC, Robert.

He was sympathetic about the condenser and assured me the AC guy had been told it would be installed low to the ground.


Then, we went into a back and forth-about the bathroom floor.


He said it’s only 7/8th of an inch off.


There was more, and he was all set to fix it and even change it to tile. So, I went down to speak to the guys who were both there today. Brendan was gone for three weeks.

In addition to the two carpenters, Bryan, the painter, and his assistant were busy sanding away. They had covered the steps.

Things looked nicer, with everything covered in sand and smoothed out.


We discussed what would be involved in changing the floor and it would be a major step backward.


I just can’t.

I know. I’ve said more than once I can’t live with it the way it is. Well, I can. I can tell myself it’s part of the charm of an old house.

In the end, I think it’s best to finish the job, and if it’s really awful after I’ve recovered, we can see about fixing the floor then. The bathroom is built except for a little moulding still to go on. Then it’s painting, floors, plumbing, electrical fixtures, and switches.  I think it’s realistic to say it will be complete by the end of the month.

However, not if we start mucking with the floor.

The guys have also finished building the doors and panels under the stairs. However, the hardware isn’t on yet.


under stairs almost finished


Now that we have the downstairs squared away let’s return to the entry jib doors.


The new Rixon 370 pivot hinges arrived today and Robert says the guys will begin working on the doors tomorrow.

I’m concerned because I keep reading and occasionally see images of a radius edge on the jamb side of the door, on the jamb, or both.


Center hung pivot jib doors 3 different ways
The jambs are all on the right, and the long rectangle is the door from a bird’ s-eye view.


Curving the jamb helps conceal the gap. However, I have never seen a concave door jamb.


Thomas May closed jib door - wainscoting - center hung pivot hinge
Thomas May closed the jib door – wainscoting – center hung pivot hinge.


This one is very close to my door and entry wall. Let’s look at it as it opens.

Thomas May open jib door - wainscoting - center hung pivot hinge

This is done with a center-hung pivot hinge. There is a clue.


You can see Part 1 on YouTube or at last week’s post.


Some of you made some suggestions that seem reasonable on the surface; however, I’d like to set the record straight.

Jib and hidden doors are not all that common.


jib door impressive mouldings Prescott House - Boston

The only one I’ve ever seen in all of the houses I’ve been in and hundreds of real estate listings I’ve looked at is this one at the historic Prescott House at the edge of Beacon Hill. I took this image during a tour in January 2023.


Many of you may perceive them as everywhere because of your keen interest in interior design.


If you read design blogs, you will see them. However, they are still used by a tiny percentage of the population.

As for finding qualified artisans, I think my guys are about as good as it gets. Trying to find someone better would be another exercise in futile wheel spinning as we had with the regular doors! And we had it even worse with the embrasure doors. Select Door/Little Harbor Window in Maine came to the rescue.


The last piece of renovation anniversary news is that it looks like the stair railing will finally be installed this Thursday.


The railing was finished about five weeks ago and has been sitting at the painters all this time despite Jerry making numerous calls.

My new Emtek doorknobs are arriving tomorrow. I will also receive a strike-off sample to approve, as I decided to tweak the background color for my new bedroom mural. I adore The Mural Source. They are a class act through and through!


me June 4, 2024 Back Bay Garden Club Spring Soiree on one year renovation anniversary

This is me (with sick left eye) this evening at the Garden Club of the Back Bay’s Spring Twilight Garden Party. Isn’t that dress beautiful!

I had NOTHING to wear. I’m not exaggerating. However, on my way home from the doctor, I stopped at a lovely boutique on Charles Street and found this lovely.

Wow! We have had the most glorious weather recently. No matter where in the Northeast, we appreciate these mild, dry days.

They are incredibly rare.



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23 Responses

  1. You look lovely in that gorgeous dress, Laurel! I’m sure getting dressed up and attending a party helped with the Reno stress.
    Not sure if this has been asked before, and sorry if it has, but could the guys not use leveller on the floor? Or is that just for a concrete floor? I can’t believe the mess the floor is in….
    I’ve so enjoyed reading about the Reno for the past year, and it’s going to be absolutely stunning when it’s done. Can’t wait for the final reveal😁

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Yes, they could have used a leveling compound, if it was early in the year, but at this point, it means removing the marble jams on the shower and WC niche, and the baseboard, most of the wainscoting, and then doing the work and then it all has to be put back. The floor itself is laying okay. If it wasn’t, then I would have no choice. As it is, I very much want this job to get finished.

  2. Like several others, I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing your stair railing and final paint colors. I also wondered if the condenser is mounted higher than you’d like so it’s protected from snow. If you managed your Bronxville bathroom floor without tripping, stubbing your toes, or jolting your legs, maybe you’ll manage the height difference of your new bathroom floor just fine. Can’t wait to toast the end of your renovation and the unveiling of your realized vision. You’re in the home stretch!

    1. Hi Cyndel,

      That’s a great point. However, snow is not a factor since the condenser will rarely be used, if at all, in the winter and will be covered. I have plenty of heat from the building’s boiler that’s part of my monthly common charges. Of course, the minisplit could be used for heat in an emergency, and I can keep the snow off.

  3. You look lovely in your party dress with that gorgeous necklace!

    Hope you get well soon, and it looks like sparkling light at the end of the reno tunnel. I’m sorry the floor is being pesky, but it seems sensible to try to do it later when you’ve had a chance to live with the space for a bit.

    Can’t wait for the big reveal – Cheers!

  4. Hi Laurel, I did a down to studs remodel on my 1950 Laguna Beach home and wish I had known to have someone like you to “project manage”! I relate to your frustrations with GC and subs and learned a little too late to trust myself and push them to go the extra step to customize areas to work better. My list of code violations and not up to standard practices was long and after two years got fixed without lawyers mostly to my satisfaction. Now getting details completed not on list I.e. changing out ginormous AC condensers to slim line style and building a jib door to access under house utility/storage space I designed. I’m a California girl and new from my east coast travels and trips to Europe about hidden doors. Again, if it takes more than a basic effort subs don’t like it! However I got one installed and its great! Waiting to wallpaper it so it disappears. I will send photos to your IG.

  5. Hi Laurel,
    You look adorable…even with an eye infection. The dress is perfect for a garden party. I’m glad your weather was accommodating.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your railing. I hope the installation goes smoothly.
    As far as the uneven floor goes, only you know what you can tolerate. But it bugs me that the contractors didn’t address it when the floors were being put down. They had to have noticed.
    Anywho…Happy Renoversary. What a road this last year has seen!

    1. Thanks, Mary. The problem at this point is the time involved. It’s not worth it, but yes, they should’ve told me and given me the option to fix it when it would’ve been relatively easy. Alas, my floor in Bronxville was worse than this.

  6. The HVAC tech was just following code regulation on the mini split install. If you are in a flood zone,and FEMA puts many people into that category,they have to install it accordingly. It looks fine to me. We have to install ours here in Florida almost three feet up.

    1. Hi Jane,

      You may be right, however, I can’t find any information about that only that it needs to be installed per instructions of the manufacturer. If the possibility of flooding is the case, then why didn’t they say so when Robert told the owner of the company that I wanted it as close to the ground as possible. It would be fine if I had a real yard or a place to make it more hidden. However, the condenser is very close to the door going to the outside and it kind of hits you in the face as you’re walking out the door. It’s better, but if they could lower it a foot it would be a lot better. It would still be 7″ off the ground. If water were to come up higher than that, the condenser would be the least of our problems, I imagine.

  7. Only you could look that fabulous with the stress of a renovation and an eye infection! The dress is perfect for a garden soirée. With all due respect, you’ve spent so much time and money morphing your home into a classic beauty, please, please, please have the floor fixed now!

    1. Hi Candy,

      Yes, it would be prudent, but stepping back and looking at the big picture and seeing the end pushed back further and further, I can’t. Six months of living in disarray and a dust bowl that has no cure is not good for me. At the point we’re at, the expense to fix it later on wouldn’t be significantly different. However, the bathroom could easily be blocked off for repairs as I would have easy access to the upstairs bathroom.

      And then, again, it might be totally fine and barely noticeable once the floor is finished and there’s a rug put down. The floor itself is laying perfectly flat relative to the other boards. That is not the case with the floor adjacent to the staircase, upstairs. That began buckling the day after they installed it! That one is going to be fixed, but right now, there’s a crapload of stuff covering it up.

  8. Although I encouraged you to just leave the bathroom floor as is, my only concern with leaving the bathroom floor is whether your vanity and toilet will be level. I don’t understand why it is crooked now when it wasn’t before you started the remodel. Did they remove some sub-floor that had leveled it? In the pictures it sure looks to be more than 7/8 of an inch. I would ask your GC if it is easier to correct it now or after the project is done, if you can’t stand it the way it is. Ask yourself if you’ll be happier with the way he’ll fix it – trading your wood floor throughout for tile in the bathroom or living with it as is. If this flaw is going to annoy you every time you use your bathroom, you should have it fixed.
    I’m glad you are seeing progress on your project. It has taken a lot out of you health-wise. I hope in a few more months you can have your home back, relax and enjoy all your labors.

  9. Laurel, the dress is fab! Regarding your condenser – do you think the HVAC tech was worried about snow and drifts? I read that the condensers should be several inches off the ground due to water from rain, snow melting, etc. And 12 to 24 inches in snowy geographies. We often get a ton of snow out here in the burbs where I am. Yet, I don’t know if that is true for Boston given its proximity to the ocean. PS: great news about your railing!

  10. Laurel, Your dress is gorgeous and looks fabulous on you.
    I am really looking forward to seeing your final paint selections and murals, the colors you are considering are so, so pretty and my favorite.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  11. You look fabulous, sick eye and all! That dress is so amazing; I love the fabric, especially the colors in it. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year, though I’m sure for you, it feels much longer! Wishing you all the best as you approach the final stages. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us, Laurel :]

  12. Laurel, you look fabulous even though you’re stressed (which is not helping your immunity)! I love your site and your humor!

    1. Hi Donna,

      You’re right. It’s so difficult because something is going wrong nearly every day. And it’s weird. I’m the designer AND the client, so the designer me is trying to calm my client down. However, many things are also going right and I’m trying to focus on that. The downstairs is looking more beautiful every day the guys are there.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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